Former Belmont School Committee Member Breaks Down Recent Democratic Primary for State Rep

Belmont resident John Bowe takes a look at how Dave Rogers, a Cambridge attorney, won Thursday's Democratic primary for state representative in the 24th Middlesex District.

The following is from Belmont resident John Bowe, a former Belmont School Committee member. Bowe is a Local Voices writer for .

The state primary is over, but there are still eight weeks of phone calls and post cards yet to come.

Margaret Hegarty, Bobby Reardon, and Dave Rogers ran good campaigns for the open State Rep seat.

I've always liked sifting through data, looking for trends, and checking anecdotal evidence to explain some of it. So, this is my summary of all that - from looking over and talking with a few dozen people the past couple months about the candidates.

Some points that stood out

There is some merit to the argument of having someone actually from Belmont in the State House. But then perhaps that's just the narrow mindedness that Belmont is often accused of. I've felt that many older, inner suburbs have not done well by the state (eg, education aid, which has improved in the past few years), which is an argument for a non-Cantabridgian; Cambridge seems to have more money than they know what to do with. For me, union and other state politician endorsements are a negative, but I could not tell how others felt. I see pluses and minuses to Bobby's youth. Yes, light on life's experiences, including jobs and family, but the State House could use more freshness, energy, and new approaches. The 20-something rep in Arlington is doing pretty well. Dave was all over, knocking on doors and meeting everyone. From my own campaigns (2003), I know that even quick personal contact sticks with voters. Breadth of experience (private industry and government) seemed a plus, which Dave has.

Precint result observations

Belmont's voters were 54% of those who voted in the 24th Middlesex, vs 30% in Arlington and 15% in Cambridge. (In case you don't know, the other parts of the district: the two Cambridge precincts (both in Ward 11) are near Alewife to Mass Ave and the five Arlington precincts along Rte 2 from Cambridge to Park Ave.)

Margaret won 51% in Belmont, 30% in Arlington, and only 19% in Cambridge, Dave's home turf. The only places she was below 25% was Cambridge.

Dave captured about 60% in both Cambridge and Arlington, though only 30% in Belmont. He did better on the Cambridge side of Common Street and Pleasant Street. Doing well was expected in Cambridge, and he polled about the same in four of the five Arlington precincts. Dave's weakest were Belmont's 2nd, 4th, and 5th precincts - Belmont Hill and Trapelo Road neighborhoods. Also weak was Arlington's precinct 2, which was Bobby's strongest.

Bobby's strongest places were Arlington's 2nd, and his home precinct, 6th. He did only single digits where Dave was in the 60s in Arlington. He beat Margaret in Cambridge, by a handful of votes.

Overall observations

Margaret got the endorsements of various current and former State House pols, from Belmont, Arlington, Lexington, and Cambridge. With the climate the State House (which, for several former speakers, extends to various courtrooms and jails), this could have been a negative.

Both Dave and Margaret got various union endorsements. I try to pay attention to such stuff, but can't recall which endorsed which 5 minutes after reading it. Only 15% of the Mass labor force is unionized, so perhaps most people don't care. Will those all support Dave now?

Was Bobby the spoiler for Margaret? Did they split the Belmont vote? Their combined votes would have beaten Dave, but I have no feel for which way Bobby's supporters would have leaned had he not been there. I thought Bobby definitely made the race more interesting, which probably caused a higher overall turnout.

I'm not surprised that the Waverley and Belmont Hill areas were Dave's skimpiest. My observation over my years in Belmont is that these are the more anti-Cambridge than other parts of town.

How much bump did Margaret get from growing up here? In which parts of town did that help most?

In Arlington and Belmont, Dave did relatively better in precincts with more single-family housing units (except Belmont's precinct 2).

I have not discovered why Dave romped in most of Arlington but did so poorly in the 2nd precinct (either side of Lake St). What's up with that?

The General Election will be interesting with the three candidates, Dave Rogers, Tomi Olson, and Jim Gammill.


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